Governed by tradition, taboos and legends, Tet Nguyen Dan (Tet for short) welcomes the Lunar New Year and spring’s arrival. As Vietnam’s most important festival and public holiday, it is extremely important when families are reunited and celebrate together. For visitors to Vietnam at this time it is a wonderful and fascinating experience.
Hoi An is no exception. The Old Town’s already colorful and vibrant streets become even more animated – many of the town’s performances and activities continue, entertaining visitors and locals. These include Bai Choi, Hoi An’s iconic folk singing, together with traditional games such as pot breaking, Chinese chess, tug of war and martial arts competitions.
Important traditions are followed. On the eve of Tet families observe the ancestor ritual. A table is laid with flowers, fruit, banh chung, offering papers for burning, candles, rice wine, boiled chicken, sweets and cakes. The morning of the first day of Tet families exchange greetings while traditionally the elderly and young children receive red envelopes containing lucky money.
The family drink tea together and eat candied fruit and various seeds. Four different cakes, peculiar to Hoi An and the region, are eaten – Banh Tet and Banh To commemorate the ancestors while Banh In and Banh No signify good luck in the New Year.
Also of great significance is the “First Footer” – the person who brings either good or bad luck to the host family, so the choice of person who visits one’s home first is extremely important.
Over the Tet holiday smartly dressed families visit places of worship and ancestors’ graves, making offerings and praying for peace and prosperity in the New Year. After that they will visit relatives and friends, in order of seniority – grandparents first down to friends and neighbors.
Celebrating Tet in Hoi An means you will experience the holiday period as a local.
Tet 2020 calendar
7 days’ statutory holiday
23 January – 1st day of the holidays
24 January – Vietnamese New Year’s Eve
25 January – Vietnamese New Year’s Day
26-29 January inclusive – Tet holidays (during which Government offices, state-owned companies and schools will be closed)